Saturday, 16 May 2009


E-safety Conference

The first big e-safety conference was run by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board on May 5th 2009. There were presentations on the legal obligations arising from the use of the internet in schools, strategies for preventing and responding to cyber bullying, mobile phone bullying, grooming and resources for teaching pupils about cyber safety. My own workshops were based on grooming and policies. They were very well attended, so much so that for the policies session we took over the main conference hall instead of a break out room.
Two of my workshops were on Grooming – Do you know who you are talking to? When working on the internet the question of identity is key. Children often do not know who they are talking to. In My Second Life e-safety sessions Anna Sydenham (OU professor)  suggested making a poster for people to use when they are chatting to “friends” on the internet to help people decide whether a person they are talking to is really a friend, or, may in fact, not be.  I thought that was a brilliant idea and have since been canvassing – including the delegates of the e-safety conference – to decide on the list of questions.  I have done a couple of rough drafts of the poster and am compiling a list of questions. 

To be safe children and young people should talk to people that they have met in real life, then they are sure the conversation is safe but there are some key questions children could ask themselves to determine whether they are having a “safe” conversation or not
Have you met them in real life?
Is this someone you have encountered through school, a social group or sports club?
Would you be happy for your parents to ask them round for an evening?
If they ask to meet say okay I will bring my big brother (if asked say he is 21), if there is any question at all this is not a friend.

It is difficult to get this set of questions right, the reasoning behind these questions  – obviously we are all sure that someone we have met is real and have a clear picture of who they are. We all know of people, have seen them around, know they are in the same clubs, groups etc and so they are fairly easy to check up on given time so the second question addresses that group. The third question is a little different, we may be talking to people that we think are okay, but would we be slightly worried or ashamed if our parents or nearest and dearest were to meet them? If the answer is yes or not sure then there should be a question mark, a slight insecurity…. so should ring alarm bells. Finally if we are talking to someone who we think is a friend and they ask to meet – the safe answer, yes I will bring along my big brother, you should get on, he is twenty.  It could be my dad, mum, older cousin, older sister and her friend…. Whatever – but make it a group with responsible people in it. If there is the slightest negative response it is dangerous. 

If anyone can add to them or improve them please do :-)

Wordle: e-safety discussion


Eloise said...

I'm far from an expert, but the one that occurs to me is "Do they want me to keep what we're doing a secret?"

I know kids like secrets sometimes, maybe often, but if it's always them that's asking for it to be a secret that should be an alarm bell?

And the really big one: if they want to meet you, arrange to meet them, their parents, you, your parents so everyone is happy that it's all above board.

Carolrb said...

Hi El, sorry I am so long in replying life has been manic the last few days as it was suddenly announced last week that Helen ( daughter) needed to go to India. She is there - but at what time cost :-)
Thank you very much, yes I think that "Do I / we / he/she want to keep this a secret?" is a very significant question! I will add it to the list. I am going to finish this poster any time at all and share it with anyone who would like it along with our whole internet safety pack.